Press Statement By Violet Yong:
The Ministry of Education (MOE) had published a 150 page Garis Panduan Pengurusan dan Pengoperasian Sekolah 3.0 recently which tried to explain the management and operations of schools under the various phases of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).
It is of great concern that the ministry has failed in up-lifting the quality of education in the past 20 months especially to transform our education delivery services of digital learning during Covid-19 pandemic.
Instead of opening up the schools when we are not properly well prepared, the ministry should firstly carry out a thorough diagnostic assessment on their students’ performance nation-wide. From the overall students’ performance, the ministry can then decide whether the schools should either repeat the current academic year, proceed to the next or even a hybrid step.
“The main issue is that if the year one student had not mastered the necessary skills, they will never be able to catch up with the lessons in the subsequent levels, thus creating a lost generation.”
It is to be reminded that in the event a nationwide assessment exercise on students’ performance is carry out, it must not be used to evaluate the teachers’ performance but only for the MOE to decide on the next course of action to be taken for the benefit of our students. The purpose of this proposed national assessment must be diagnostic and be made clear to everyone so that the teachers and parents are not put under unnecessary stress and pressure.
With the diagnostic assessment results, the government can then allocate sufficient funds, resources and engage expertise to develop appropriate content and material that is relevant to the technology and students learning modalities.
Secondly, the ministry can separate the curriculum into two main domain, that is the knowledge and skills domain. The knowledge domain can be taught through self-access method in which the content is distributed to students either through the print media (areas where connectivity is unavailable) or digital platform. The content of the material must however be developed in such a way to enable self-learning. The students can learn the content on their own at home while their other group of classmates is having their week of face-to-face session in school. When they are in school the following week, the teacher can focus on the subsequent skills related to the knowledge domain such as, problem solving, higher order thinking skills in the application and synthesis based on the knowledge acquired. This is actually not a new strategy but a modified flip-classroom approach.
The MOE must aware that the pre-pandemic teaching pedagogy and strategies is no more appropriate. Given the new norm and additional task that placed on the teachers to undertake in ensuring the safety and well-being of their students, the ministry is required to up skill all teachers so as to equip them with pedagogical skills to handle the students’ alternate learning schedule. It is important to retrain every school counselor to handle students stress due to the MCO and its related issues. This would at least ease the teachers’ load of having to manage the students’ issues while trying to teach them.
Thirdly, it is necessary for the Ministry to hold more comprehensive town-hall sessions to engage all stake holders to iron out the relevant issues as well as coming up with a collective strategy. Without a well planned strategy and adequate support, the effort by the teachers will be futile, and the students will experience even less learning.